Tennessee’s basketball team was dealt its first loss of the season in the Emerald Coast Classic as the Vols fell to Florida State, 60-57. Tennessee also picked up its second resume win of the season in its visit to Niceville, Florida, beating Virginia Commonwealth, 72-69.
The Vols are more focused on the loss to Florida State, specifically the breakdowns that caused it, as they move into December.
“We reached a lot of our goals in the first game defensively, but we lost the game because you turn it over and allow 24 points,” head coach Rick Barnes said. “I’d like for them to know -- and we’ll point it out again to them today -- that when we do execute the things that we practice, we do pretty well.”
“I thought we showed a lot of determination even in the Florida State game, we were down. It felt like we were fighting uphill the whole way, which we were, but we stayed with it and I think they’ll learn there’s a lot of different ways you can win basketball games and there’s a lot of ways you can lose it.”
While Tennessee hadn’t committed more than 17 turnovers in a game before its 21-turnover performance against Florida State, turnovers have been a recurring issue for Tennessee early on this season despite a pair of talented senior guards.
Lamonté Turner is posting a team high 7.9 assists per game, but the redshirt-senior has turned the ball over four times a game in his transition to full time point guard.
“Lamonté has turned it over a lot, when he is trying to do too much. We keep telling him he has to trust his teammates,” Barnes said. “He is going to have to learn to make those plays. That is what he is going to have to get better with. … He owned up to it. He told the guys at the halftime, 'it is my fault.' He told them after the game it was his fault. We need him to be solid with the ball, but we need Jordan Bowden.”
Turner and the Vols will get a chance to show what they learned from their trip to the Sunshine State by hosting Florida A&M at Thompson-Boling Arena Wednesday night.
The Rattlers have been dreadful so far this season recording an 0-6 record in which three of the losses have come by 20 plus points. Florida A&M ranks 340th out of the 353 division one teams according to KenPom.
Florida A&M has been dreadful from three-point range this season, shooting just 22 percent from behind the arch.
M.J. Randolph leads Florida A&M with 10 points per game, but the Rattlers rely on a plethora of players to score as six players average over six points per game.
The matchup against the struggling Rattlers should give Barnes a chance to expand his bench and get more playing time for young players like Drew Pember, Davonte Gaines and Olivier Nkamhoua.
“Olivier (Nkamhoua) is so much better than he’s playing right now,” Barnes said of the freshman forward. “But it goes back, he has to buy into what we need him to do. He’s as talented as any player that we have on our team. He can score. And we think he can score against anybody. He has to slow down.”
Tipoff from Thompson-Boling Arena is set for 7 p.m. ET and will be broadcast on the SEC Network.